Moving Bees Out of a Meter Box

Nuc box (new home) on left–utility box enclosure (old home) on right. I got an email the other day from someone who had a beehive in his electric meter box, a popular destination for bees in this area. It was a very small hive that had taken up residence just a few weeks ago. The house was about to be put up for sale so I had to get them out pronto. I brought along a cardboard nuc box–a temporary hive box used to transport b...

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The Barrier Method

Over the years we’ve lost countless plants to digging, chewing, trampling and sucking critters, mammals and insects both. We finally got smart. It makes sense to invest a little extra time and money to protect your crops and your livestock with physical barriers. This practice started sort of piecemeal around here, with us only exerting ourselves over particularly problem-prone situations. Nowadays protection is standard for every bed we p...

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Advances in Gardening Series: The Perennial Herb Bed, Patience and Plant Spacing and Breaking Your Own Rules

No, this is not a pile of weeds. Someday it’s going to look good. Mrs. Homegrown here: One of the big lessons of gardening is patience. One way gardening patience is expressed is in planting perennials: buying leeetle teeny plants and planting them vast distances apart and then waiting with your hands politely folded until they grow to full size. A very common landscaping mistake is to go out and buy a bunch of gallon-sized land...

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Bare Root Fruit Tree Season is Here!

Yet another Internet “un-boxing.” This time fruit trees. Our bare root fruit tree order just arrived from Bay Laurel Nursery. We ordered: Tropic Snow Peach on Nemaguard rootstock Panamint Nectarine on Citation rootstock CoffeeCake (Nishimura Wase) Persimmon Saijo Persimmon (pollinator for CoffeeCake) Flavor Finale Pluot on Myrobalan 29C rootstock Santa Rosa Plum on Citation rootstock (pollinator for the Flavor Finale Pluot...

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Have any ideas? We’re rewriting the anniversary gift list

Okay, this has almost nothing to do with the post. But Anne, mentioned below, and her broody hen Big Wig, are fostering kittens. Yes, the hen sits on the kittens. You might die of the cuteness if you saw it. If you live in the LA area and need a fluffy, chicken-identified kitten, drop us a line. Our neighbors Anne and Bill are about to have an anniversary. Anne was thinking about a gift for Bill and referenced the traditional anniversar...

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Gift Suggestions, from the Other Half

...thored by a Chumash healer and a USC pharmacology prof., both of whom write for Wilderness Way magazine. A fascinating resource documenting both historical uses and current scientific opinion on our native plants. My post on it is here. Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources by M. Kat Anderson, University of California Press, 2006 I’m still fascinated with this book’s...

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How to Process Carob

Before. Photo by Bill Wheelock. Our neighborhood has an abundance of carob (Ceratonia siliqua) trees that, around this time of year, drop thousands of pounds of pods. Now many of us may have unpleasant associations with carob as a 1970s era chocolate substitute, but the tree has a long history in the Middle East, where it’s used to make a tea, as a source of molasses, as a vegetable and as animal feed. The “locusts” th...

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This Is Why Mint Is Invasive

...had to go. I thought I’d be digging roots out of the bed all day, but turns out they formed this thick, impressive mat you see above. I’m sure small bits will remain to haunt me, but all in all, I’m grateful it was that easy. The moral: If you’re thinking about planting mint for the first time, keep in mind that it spreads, given space and water. Its roots, properly called rhizomes, run underground and can send up shoots m...

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Einkorn Pasta

...iac patients” who normally can’t eat wheat products. Jovial’s website cautions, however, that einkorn has not yet been evaluated by the FDA for consumption by celiac patients. Einkorn does contain gluten but it may be in a “more digestible” form than other wheat varieties according to Jovial. I’ve found Jovial’s einkorn products at Whole Foods and on Amazon. See the Jovial Foods website for more informati...

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Summer 2010 Tomato Report

Tomato season began inauspiciously with unseasonably cold weather for Southern California. I simply couldn’t get any seeds to germinate. Thankfully, Craig of gardenedibles.com came to the rescue with a couple of seedlings for us. Here’s a recap of our tomato successes and failures: Red Pear. I’ve grown this one before. It’s a plump, ribbed, meaty tomato. It’s flavorful and amazing both fresh and made into sauce. Cr...

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